November 21, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nancy Osborn drops the pedal and rolls down the freeway in her pink Cadillac. Osborn, along with her sister, have the wind against their backs as they cruise to Aretha Franklin’s funeral. The radio plays the Queen of Soul’s hits, including “Freeway of Love,” the lyrics of which mention the blush-colored automobile. Osborn’s “trophy on wheels” is her symbol of success, freedom, and female empowerment.  

The week prior, Crisette Ellis, an independent national sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, called on her fellow beauty consultants to cruise to Detroit. Ellis thought a line of pink Cadillacs seemed a fitting tribute to R-E-S-P-E-C-T the late singer. Osborn, along with another 99 pink Cadillac owners, parked on Seven Mile Road outside Greater Grace Temple on Aug. 31.

“Who would have thought this small-town farm girl would be driving to Detroit to celebrate Aretha Franklin?” Osborn asks. 

Osborn believes in livin’ right, seein’ places, and drivin’ full speed. Her license plate proudly displays her credo—LIVE LRG.

“Go big or go home,” Osborn says. 

Osborn left small-town Nebraska many years ago, and for a time, felt stuck in neutral. She shifted into low gear after someone invited her to a Mary Kay party. Osborn fell in love with the product and positive environment. Although Osborn worked full-time, she sprinkled 10 hours a week into selling makeup. 

“Let me borrow your face,’’ she would say.

The business paved a road to independence. She ditched her non-supportive husband and former job. Osborn realized the company was much more than a tube of lipstick, and shifted into high gear as a full-time beauty consultant with Mary Kay in 1999. She rose through the ranks until she hit the top tier as an independent senior national sales director. 

“It’s a vehicle to change one’s story,” Osborn believes.

The company’s most coveted incentive dates back to 1969, when founder Mary Kay Ash first bestowed the powdery pink ride on her top sellers. Mary Kay is a multi-level business, leasing the Cadillacs to those who have sold at least $100,000 worth of products in a year. Some critics have dubbed the company’s sales methods a “pyramid scheme,” but the system has worked for Osborn. 

To earn the iconic vehicle, consultants must build a sales team of 12 members and reach a sales goal of at least $18,000 within four months. If the $100,000 mark is hit by the end of the year, Mary Kay will co-op a Cadillac for two years, or the consultant can opt for a monthly cash payment. Other sales-goal perks include all-expense paid trips, jewelry, and clothing. 

As each member steps up the leadership ladder, the coveted car comes closer to reality. The company reports that only 1,000 sales reps have earned the right to the pink Cadillac. 

And Osborn’s daughter is following right behind her—down the Mary Kay path and along I-80 to Detroit. Annaka Krafka and Osborn are the 11th mother and daughter duo to become national sales directors in Mary Kay Cosmetics. Krafka and her mother picked the 2017 CTS Luxury Escalade. The vehicles are both fully loaded, including rain-sensing windshield wipers, air-conditioned seats, and the automated ability to parallel park. 

“The pink car is about as close to a Barbie dream house as you can get,” Krafka says. 

On that rainy August day, the few miles to the cemetery took over an hour because thousands of people gathered on the streets. The crowd screamed, high-fived, danced, and sang, belting out Franklin’s iconic words: “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway, of love, in my pink Cadillac.”


Visit marykay.com for more information.

This article was printed in the December 2018/January 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

From left: Nancy Osborn and Annaka Krafka